Research Papers

When Theater Comes to Engineering Design: Oh How Creative They Can Be

[+] Author and Article Information
Ferris M. Pfeiffer

Department of Bioengineering,
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,
University of Missouri Extension,
Columbia, MO 65211

Rachel E. Bauer, Suzanne Burgoyne, Jennie J. Pardoe

Department of Theatre,
University of Missouri Extension,
Columbia, MO 65211

Steve Borgelt, Sheila Grant, Heather K. Hunt

Department of Bioengineering,
University of Missouri Extension,
Columbia, MO 65211

David C. Schmidt

University of Missouri Extension,
Columbia, MO 65211

Manuscript received December 5, 2016; final manuscript received May 16, 2017; published online June 6, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Kristen Billiar.

J Biomech Eng 139(7), 071004 (Jun 06, 2017) (4 pages) Paper No: BIO-16-1498; doi: 10.1115/1.4036793 History: Received December 05, 2016; Revised May 16, 2017

The creative process is fun, complex, and sometimes frustrating, but it is critical to the future of our nation and progress in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), as well as other fields. Thus, we set out to see if implementing methods of active learning typical to the theater department could impact the creativity of senior capstone design students in the bioengineering (BE) department. Senior bioengineering capstone design students were allowed to self-select into groups. Prior to the beginning of coursework, all students completed a validated survey measuring engineering design self-efficacy. The control and experimental groups both received standard instruction, but in addition the experimental group received 1 h per week of creativity training developed by a theater professor. Following the semester, the students again completed the self-efficacy survey. The surveys were examined to identify differences in the initial and final self-efficacy in the experimental and control groups over the course of the semester. An analysis of variance was used to compare the experimental and control groups with p < 0.05 considered significant. Students in the experimental group reported more than a twofold (4.8 (C) versus 10.9 (E)) increase of confidence. Additionally, students in the experimental group were more motivated and less anxious when engaging in engineering design following the semester of creativity instruction. The results of this pilot study indicate that there is a significant potential to improve engineering students' creative self-efficacy through the implementation of a “curriculum of creativity” which is developed using theater methods.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Student self-reported change in anxiety in the engineering design process following a semester using a curriculum of creativity. (columns a–i correspond to Appendix A and the key above).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Student self-reported change in motivation in the engineering design process following a semester using a curriculum of creativity. (columns a–i correspond to Appendix A and the key above).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Student self-reported change in confidence in the engineering design process following a semester using a curriculum of creativity. (columns a–i correspond to Appendix A and the key above).



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